Only a phone call away
On the other side of Australia,
From coastal green
To mountains blue,
Desert miles and sand
And a caravan,
1934 is a lifetime away
From where we are.
Only a phone call away
It was my sixteenth birthday and officially I wasn’t a little girl anymore, as if anybody noticed or cared. I hadn’t slept very much through the night, as usual. My eyes were sore from crying and I didn’t want to lift my head off the pillow. The nightmares still bothered me when I did fall asleep so I usually just let myself lay there for hours staring into the darkness. Sometimes I could see stars shining through my bedroom window and I watched them move slowly across the night sky. I could feel time standing still around me while the rest of the world kept spinning in ever increasing circles.
I rolled out of bed and my feet hit the cold floor. The clouds outside were grey and the wind had blown all the autumn leaves away. The bare branches against the window were pointing at me. ‘Look at the freaky teenager,’ they said.
I couldn’t bear to look at my face in the mirror, so I got dressed with my back turned. My school uniform was so drab; black shoes, grey stockings, black skirt, a white blouse and an ugly grey school jumper. I usually wore my hair tied up so that I didn’t have to be bothered with brushing it. Nobody likes red hair anyway.
I skipped breakfast as usual and gave Mum a quick kiss goodbye. ‘You should eat something, darling,’ she said as I ran out the back door. I just waved my hand and headed for my bike. ‘Don’t forget to come straight home this afternoon.’ No mention of my birthday or anything. She had probably forgotten all about it.
I climbed on my bike and rode down the laneway. This was the best bit, feeling the cold wind biting against my cheeks. It was almost like punishment, except it made me feel free. I usually liked to take my time on the way to school but I rode fast because there was something I needed to do on the other side of town first.
My breath was rasping in my throat as I pushed my way up the hill and coasted to a stop. I walked my bike through the gates of the crematorium and leant it against a tree. ‘Well, here I am again,’ I whispered. ‘It’s my birthday today, but I guess you already know that.’ The branches above swayed as I stood there in silence, tears running down my cheeks. It had been five years but it still hurt and I missed him every day. The minutes ticked away and I took a deep breath. ‘I’d better go, I’m already late.’ I walked back to my bike and rode off to school.
I was late again, of course, and got put on lunchtime detention. It was the third time that week. I didn’t mind though because it meant I didn’t have to talk to anyone or be out in the playground with all the other kids. I could just sit in the classroom and read. I hated school anyway; I was terrible at all my subjects except English. Actually, I was bad at English too because I just got zero on my last assignment. I was meant to keep a journal of all the books I had read during the year and write about them. I had read more than a dozen books and had filled up my journal; but I forgot to hand it in on time so I got a big fat zero.
Mum had tried really hard to get me interested in an activity of some sort. She said I spent far too much time sitting in my bedroom with my nose in a book. It was time I did something like making friends and playing outside. I had never told her about school and how all the kids thought I was weird.
Last year Mum bought me a guitar. I lasted one lesson because it hurt my fingers so much that I never touched it again. She then made me sign up for the school choir. She said it was because I used to love singing when I was younger and I needed to discover that again. I went to choir practice once and heard some boys laughing at me. One of them even came over afterwards and told me I was singing flat. So I never went back again. Then Mum tried netball, soccer, athletics, and a heap of other things. I proved I was completely uncoordinated and hopeless at all of them and just wished that she would give up. In the end she bought me a blank notebook in frustration. She handed it to me and said, ‘Why don’t you just write down the things you want to do?’
The notebook sat on the desk in my bedroom for months before I touched it. It was that English assignment that got me started. One afternoon, I thought I would see if I could write about how I felt about things. I sat there staring at the blank first page for ages, not sure how to start, but then the words just started flowing.
Find out what happens next by ordering Molly’s Dreams online from Amazon
On my cheeks;
Cliches run free.
Everything I am
Fashion doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated. As a student I am always on the lookout for sales and discount shops. This week I wanted to share some simple tops that I picked up at a sale during the week. A nice top that is comfortable is an easy way to make any outfit look great.
Have a happy week in fashion
Ghostly splashes of ink,
Drift into words,
Light within darkness;
Like ancient prayers,
It takes time to heal
When night is forever.
My older sister complained all the way along the winding dirt road. It wasn’t my fault that my leg kept touching hers. I was always the one squashed in the middle and even though I was small there was nowhere to put my legs. I tried to keep them squeezed together but every time we hit a bump – and there were lots on this road – my knees would slip and I would touch her leg. She kept saying I was doing it deliberately and would poke me in the ribs. Sometimes if she did it too hard I would cry out and then dad would roar at all of us to be quiet. We should enjoy the scenery and stop that fighting in the back seat. It was alright for him, but I couldn’t see any scenery to enjoy from where I was squashed in the middle of the back seat. The one time I did try to see it seemed like we were clinging to the edge of a mountainside and the valley below was a million miles away. On top of everything else I was starting to feel carsick. The swaying and bumping car and the lack of air was making me feel queasy. I didn’t bother listening to dad talk about how exciting this trip was. ‘We’re going to see where Slim Dusty grew up,’ he said. But I wasn’t really listening. I wanted to lay me head back and sleep. I knew I would be in trouble if I asked if we could pull over. ‘No time to stop,’ dad always said.
‘Mum! She’s doing it again!!’ I had closed my eyes for a second and had accidentally dozed off and then my leg slipped and touched Jasmine’s again.
‘We’re nearly there, girls. Just be quiet for a bit longer.’ That was what mum always said. But it seemed like hours later when we finally stopped. Everyone piled out of the car and when I was finally in the fresh hour my legs felt wobbly and I nearly vomited and the green grass.
Mum spread a picnic blanket on the ground and Jasmine was the first to flop down on the ground with her knees in the air and her arms behind her head. Stephen called me over to look at the creek so I wobbled across the paddock after him. The air smelt of tea tree and sassafras. I took a deep breath and suddenly I realised what Dad had been talking about. This was the kind of place where you could live and just spend the rest of your days being part of nature. There really were sleeping gums on the hillside and herds straying by, just like in the song. I could hear Dad in the distance talking about Slim Dusty again as I joined Stephen by the creek in time to see a turtle splash into the water.
From within the truth
Lie hidden shadows,
A version more acceptable
Than domestic violence,
Confusing desire with love.
The Stories of Eva Luna – by Isabel Allende
If you have followed my Monday books series over the last couple of weeks you will know by now I am a huge Isabel Allende fan. This week’s book is The Stories of Eva Luna, a follow-on from her novel Eva Luna that I reviewed last week. Eva is a story teller, a gift she used throughout childhood and into her adult life to deal with the challenges she faces. Through her stories Eva finds friendship, compassion, safety – and love.
This novel is posed as a collection of Eva Luna’s stories. Although they are a collection of short stories there is a thread woven through them that tells the story of Eva’s life, loves and concerns.
The stories highlight the importance of words in our own lives, how they are enmeshed with thoughts and emotions, actions and deeds and consequences. There are not always happy endings in life. The small, the weak, the beautiful do not always win. Too often it is the gross, violent men that are left standing at the end. But if there is a message in this book I think it is that it’s the way we live our lives that is important, the effect we have on those around us. It’s not about winning or losing, being the victor or strongest. It’s about having a heart full of emotion and touching the hearts of others.
Search for it in your local bookshop or library. The Stories of Eva Luna is a beautiful and thought provoking group of stories that I’m sure you will love.